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Historical Monuments GEIQ in Aix restores employment

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur - Aix-en-Provence
Access to employment

The Historical Monuments GEIQ is a group of employers that support integration and qualification while restoring historical monuments. Based in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, it’s the first of its kind in France



“Our region possesses a significant heritage with many sites undergoing restoration. The problem is that few people today consider careers in the field and we are continually seeking qualified young people,” explains Christian Pons, director of the Girard Agency (VINCI Construction) in Aix-en-Provence, founding member of the GEIQ and operation sponsor. “It was suggested to me, ‘Why don’t you create a GEIQ? There are so many people in difficulty!’”

Training for careers in historical preservation

Created in 2007 and composed of six firms, the group recruits young people under 26 and adults seeking employment who currently receive active solidarity revenue or a specific solidarity allowance. The GEIQ trains them for careers in historical preservation (masonry, stone cutter, decoration painter), guides them for two years and, if all goes well, makes a job offer for one of the member firms. In 2010, the VINCI Foundation became involved, making it possible to buy toolboxes and a car for program participants. “We are the only GEIQ for historical monuments in France,” explains Marion Rogar, director of the group.

Upon arrival, participants join a team and restoration site under the supervision of an employee of the host firm. At the same time, they receive training. “They work on magnificent sites such as Pharo Palace and If Castle in Marseille, Collégiale St Laurent in Salon de Provence and the Arles Amphitheatre,” explains Marion Rogar.

Long-term employment

Jean-Christophe Seux, 32, is involved in Girard’s renovation of an 18th century town house in the centre of Aix. He began a one-year assignment with the GEIQ in October 2009. After a year, he signed a professional training contract with Girard for a second year as a mason in historical preservation. “I was unemployed and had no special skills. One day, at the employment office, while I was skimming the training binders, I came across ‘mason in historical preservation’. Since I like manual work, it attracted my attention. I met with Marion Rogar, and went for an interview at Girard. I now spend three weeks each month at the worksite and one in "renovating the local architectural heritage" training. In May, I’ll receive my vocational aptitude certificate and sign an open-ended contract with Girard in October. I really love what I do. Eventually, since I often work with stone, I'd like to finish my training and become a stonemason.”

For Christian Pons, the project is a source of satisfaction that is professional, human and personal: “I’m really happy when we hire a local person on an open-ended contract. It’s especially heart warming!” The numbers speak for themselves. Today, 70% of those participating in the programme go on to long-term employment.

June 2011 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.